Sir Alex Ferguson’s clear contempt for “typical Germans” after agonising Man Utd loss

ON THIS DAY: Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United suffered a crushing – and controversial – Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich 12 years ago today

Sir Alex Ferguson
Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League with a painful away-goals loss to Bayern Munich

Sir Alex Ferguson resorted to a bitter jibe as his fury boiled over following Manchester United ‘s elimination from the Champions League on this day in 2010.

The legendary Scot was searching for his third triumph in the competition after United fell just short of defending their 2008 crown one season earlier, losing the 2009 final to Barcelona. They began their European conquest in dominant fashion, topping Group B before defeating AC Milan by an aggregate scoreline of 7-2 in the last 16.

United were then drawn against Bayern Munich ahead of the next round, pitting Ferguson against the old foe he defeated in the famous 1999 final. However, the Bundesliga giants had the last laugh on this occasion after two fiercely-competitive legs in late March and early April.

United travelled to the Allianz Arena for the first clash and emerged on the receiving end of a 2-1 defeat to leave them facing an uphill battle. Wayne Rooney scored just over a minute into the first leg but Franck Ribery and Ivica Olic completed Bayern’s turnaround to give them the slight advantage and set up a blockbuster showdown at Old Trafford.

Once again, the Red Devils came storming out of the blocks as Darron Gibson struck a fine long-range effort to equalise the aggregate score and Nani produced a delightful flick to put the hosts ahead. The Portuguese winger added his second of the match with a powerful finish from Rooney’s pass to give United a commanding lead, only for Olic to pull one back for the visitors just before half-time.

United’s stars trotted down the tunnel knowing their 4-3 aggregate lead was a dangerous one as Bayern would clinch victory on away goals if they scored one more. However, there were many positives for United to take from their dominant first-half performance and they would have been confident of seeing out the match with the experienced centre-back partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Nani’s goals gave Manchester United the aggregate lead at half-time


Manchester United via Getty Images)

This confidence unravelled just five minutes into the second as Rafael received a second yellow card for tugging Ribery back as the French forward looked to break on the United defence. The Brazilian defender, who was just 19 at the time, had already been booked in the first half for a forceful challenge on Mark van Bommel and Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli chose to give him his marching orders.

Ribery led the protests of a wily Bayern outfit – which also contained the likes of Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger – in the build-up to the second yellow, which proved to be a turning point in the tie. United held out with 10 men for 24 minutes before Robben struck a sublime volley directly from a corner to make the aggregate score 4-4 and send Bayern through to the semi-finals on away goals.

A compelling two legs of football were followed up by fireworks in the post-match press conferences as Ferguson accused opposition players of influencing Rizzoli in no uncertain terms. “The young boy showed a bit of inexperience,” he said of Rafael. “But they got him sent off, everyone sprinted towards the referee – typical Germans.”

Did Rafael deserve a second yellow card? Have your say in the comments…

Bayern Munich’s players swarmed Nicola Rizzoli after he blew his whistle


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Ferguson was quite aggrieved by Bayern’s gamesmanship as he had no doubt his side would have reached the semis with 11 men on the pitch. “They were never getting through that tie, with 11 men we had no problem,” Ferguson said, adding: “It was typical professionalism in a way but they saw the opportunity and they almost forced the referee to get the card out.

“The referee wasn’t going to do anything. But we’ve seen it before from teams like that. The Bayern players got him sent off, there’s no doubt about that. It was only a little tug of the lad 35 yards from goal, they’re not even a goal threat at that point.

“[Rafael’s] inexperienced and sometimes, like that, the inexperience can show itself. But he had a marvellous performance, the boy, and it’s a tragedy for him. But I think we were very unlucky tonight.”

Rafael was shown two yellow cards to leave Manchester United a man down


Getty Images)

Then-Bayern manager Louis van Gaal hit back at Ferguson emphatically in his own post-match musings, accusing his opposite number of foul play. The Dutchman said: “I thought England was a country of fair play and I don’t think that is fair.

“I don’t share Sir Alex’s opinion. Part of being a player is control. Every player must know if you pick up one yellow card, a second one means a sending off. I certainly believe it was a yellow card offence and that is down to the player.

“Did the red card change the game? We shall never know. It is easy to say that after a loss. This game shall not be played again. I think [Ferguson] is just disappointed.”

Louis van Gaal and Sir Alex Ferguson saw the sending-off incident differently


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After progressing from the quarter-finals, Bayern had little trouble swatting aside Lyon – defeating the French club 4-0 on aggregate – to reach a showdown with Inter Milan at the Santiago Bernabeu. They ultimately fell to a 2-0 defeat by Jose Mourinho’s side but the season was a resounding success thanks to their triumphs in the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal.

United, meanwhile, retained the League Cup but failed to defend the Premier League as Chelsea clinched the title by one point. They returned rejuvenated in the 2010/11 campaign but fell short against Barcelona in the Champions League once again in what proved to be Ferguson’s last European final.

The footballing icon called time on his management career in 2013 having failed to progress beyond the last 16 of the competition in his last two seasons at Old Trafford. In the nine years since Ferguson’s departure, United have not advanced past the Champions League quarter-finals, even if they did win the Europa League under Mourinho in 2017.

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